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Ukraine Says Poker is Sport with New Legislation Expected to Follow

Written By: Maya Michaels | August 29, 2018 | Posted In Poker News

In the midst of a debate held in several countries about whether poker is a game of chance or sport, Ukrainian lawmakers decided to set an example and classified it is the latter.

Poker is now listed in Ukraine’s Register of Recognized Sports as a part of the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Ukraine’s Document 3780. This means that anti-gambling legislation from 2009 no longer applies to the game and poker is on the right path to once again be offered in the country after eight years.

Poker was initially put on the sports list prior to 2010 when then a Minister of Sport saw the difference between poker and blackjack, roulette and slot machines but a justice minister thought otherwise. The country ultimately decided that poker was in direct conflict with the Ukrainian anti-gambling law and removed it from the list.

Poker Groups took the case to Supreme Court and made a breach in 2013 to enssure that poker was allowed in tournaments only but not as regular poker games. This small victory allowed venues to stay open and operate in gray areas while facing prosecution ever since.

Big poker operators had to leave the country including the largest one, consisting of 29 skins, iPoker in 2016.

It was not until Russia and Ukraine started disputing over Crimean region that poker emerged from the underground, although still being illegal. Despite all the predicaments, Ukraine has an active poker presence in the poker community with the country’s two most prolific players Eugene Katchalov and Yevgeniy Timoshenko.

Katchalov sits on the top of Ukraine’s all-time money list with more than $9.2 million. The International federation of Matchpoker has a Ukrainian division making it one of the more active in the Eastern European region.

Now that poker has been redefined as a sport again, the introduction of new legislation is certain although there are no indications this will happen any time soon. The news was out without much publicity, published by the Ministry of Youth and Sport and listed as a “sport poker”.

It is just the beginning of a journey but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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